United Toastmasters – Global Meetings
Core Team Member of Global Meetings of United Toastmasters
The organization grew out of a single club founded by Ralph C. Smedley on October 22, 1924, at the YMCA in Santa Ana, California, United States. It originated as a set of classes with the aim of improving the communication skills of the young men under his charge. Toastmasters International was incorporated under Californian law on December 19, 1932.
The first international chapter was established in Vancouver, Canada, in 1932. The organization began admitting women in 1973.
Throughout its history, Toastmasters has served over four million people, and today the organization serves over 364,000 members in 145 countries, through its 16,200 member clubs. Toastmasters membership increased rapidly around the turn of the century, nearing 16,000 clubs worldwide by 2016.
Toastmasters International uses a local club-based structure, with an average club size of around 22 members. Meetings are held every week or every other week and usually in the evening, although some clubs meet in the morning or afternoon. Each club operates as a separate entity with a set of requirements leading to chartered status for them to be recognised as official Toastmasters clubs. Chartered status allows clubs to use the names, promotional material and programme of Toastmasters International.
Every meeting is based around a set of organized speeches. Speakers are given feedback, often by a more experienced member, who then gives an impromptu speech with constructive feedback based on their performance.
Part of meetings is devoted to Table Topics, which are impromptu speeches which are assigned on the spot by a Topicsmaster. The goal of this is to think on one’s feet with minimal preparation. In some clubs attendees are then asked to vote on whom they thought gave the best speech.
Toastmasters International places a large emphasis on building the public speaking and leadership skills of its members. The current education system consists of eleven differing paths suited to their needs and requirements, based around Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, Management, Strategic Leadership, and Confidence. Each path consists of 14 projects. Content consists of online and print materials, it being the first time in the organization’s history to provide modern technology in its programme. Content is available in English, French and German.